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Racial/Ethnic Health Care Disparities

The AMA is committed to addressing racial and ethnic health care disparities, through the Minority Affairs Section, the Health Care Disparities Program, and other initiatives. The following is a listing of some of the programs and activities of the AMA in the area of health disparities.

Minority Affairs Section
The AMA Minority Affairs Section (MAS) serves as a grassroots forum for increasing the voice of minority physicians in the AMA.  The nine-person AMA-MAS Governing Council includes designated positions for representatives from the National Medical Association, National Hispanic Medical Association, and the Association of American Indian Physicians. The AMA-MAS is an important link to the minority patient population and brings an important perspective to discussions of critical issues in health care delivery, population-based minority health disparities and professional concerns. 

Commission to End Health Disparities
In April 2004, the second meeting of the Federation Task Force on Disparities in Health Care was convened. With representation from over 35 state and specialty medical societies and other health professional organizations, the task force, chaired by the American Medical Association, in conjunction with the National Medical Association, reaffirmed its commitment to eliminating disparities in health care. The group elected to call themselves the Commission to End Health Care Disparities, focusing on physician leadership, quality, and system approaches to the elimination of disparities.

Doctors Back To School Program
Doctors Back to School is a new program that aims to raise awareness of the need for more minority physicians and to encourage children from underrepresented minority groups to look at medicine as a career option. Through Doctors Back to School, physicians and medical students across the country visit schools and community organizations to help young minority children realize they, too, can follow the same path. Currently African-Americans, Hispanics, and American Indians represent a quarter of the US population but only seven percent of physicians, a contributing factor in health disparities.

The program was launched in March 2002 and continues year round. Doctors Back To School kits are available. Physicians are encouraged to continue making visits to schools whenever they can throughout  the year. For more information visit the Doctors Back to School Web site.

Educating Physicians on Controveries in Health (EPOCH)
This is a series of brief informational Web streaming programs targeting primary care physicians on a  variety of issues including health disparities. These videos are available for viewing online.

Memorandum of Understanding
An ongoing Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the AMA and the US Department of Health and Human Services directly supports the goals of Healthy People 2010 and the elimination of health disparities.

AMA Involvement in Other Activities and Initiatives
The AMA has joined forces with the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and leading heart organizations on a national initiative addressing and seeking solutions to health disparities. This grew out of a report citing compelling data demonstrating the need to systematically and aggressively eliminate health disparities in cardiac care.

Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Health Care Reports and Recommendations
From examining race/ethnic-specific health statistics, it is clear that health care disparities continue to exist in this country. Many racial and ethnic groups have not benefited from advances in technology and the US health care system in general. These health care disparities are addressed in the AMA's Board of Trustees Report 50 (I-95). This report includes a variety of recommendations for organized medicine and the profession to eliminate disparities and improve minority health, including a declaration of the AMA's "zero tolerance" toward racially or culturally based disparities in care. Other reports include:

Report on Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Health Care
Provides information from the AMA Board of Trustees Report 50 I-95